Guide Requirements

(Amended Sept 2022)

SKGABC Certification Stream

See all SKGABC approved guide training courses

SKGABC_Visual_for_Guiding_Days

Level One Guide:

Certified to lead day trips in Class 1 waters. Certified to lead day trips in Class 2 waters when in direct communication to on-site/base manager.

  1. Must be 16 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Maintain current certification in a 16 hour (two day) Basic First Aid Course or equivalent.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  4. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  5. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  6. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  7. Pass a SKGABC Level One Course and Exam.
  8. Once certification is completed, guide must log at least 10 professional sea kayak days assisting with another guide, prior to leading day trips independently.
  9. Must participate in On-Going Training at least once every three years.
  10. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

Assistant Overnight Guide:

Certified as per Level 1 guide, plus may assist a Level Two or Three guide on overnight trips in Class 1, 2, and 3 waters.
An AOG in direct communication with a Mothership Vessel may independently lead day trips in Class 2 waters only after logging 30 days assisting with another guide. 

  1. Must be 16 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Maintain current certification in a 40 hour (five day) Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  4. Maintain current certification of CPR (Level C).
  5. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF Radio.
  6. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  7. Pass a SKGABC Assistant Overnight Guide Course and Exam.
  8. Once certification is completed, guide must log at least 10 professional sea kayak days assisting with another guide, prior to leading day trips independently.
  9. Must participate in On-Going Training at least once every three years.
  10. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

Level Two Guide:

Certified to lead day and overnight trips in Class 1 and 2 waters, and assist a Level 3 guide in Class 3 waters.
May assist a Guide Trainer or Examiner on any SKGABC course.

  1. Must be 19 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Meet all the requirements of an Assistant Overnight Guide.
  4. Required to log at least 30 professional sea kayak guiding days as an Assistant Overnight Guide on overnight trips.
  5. Maintain current certification in a 40 hour (five day) Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent. Level Two guides leading in remote areas (i.e. more than 12 hours from medical assistance) need to maintain current certification in an 80 hour (ten day) Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent. Occupational First Aid Level III will be recognized for Level Two Guides who have taken an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course previously.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  6. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  7. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  8. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  9. Pass a SKGABC Level Two Exam.
  10. Must participate in On-Going Training at least once every three years.
  11. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

Level Three Guide:

Certified to lead day and overnight trips in Class 1, 2, and 3 waters.
May assist a Guide Trainer or Examiner on any SKGABC course.

  1. Must be 19 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Meet all the requirements of a Level Two Guide.
  4. Required to log at least 50 professional sea kayak guiding days as a Level Two Guide on overnight trips (in addition to the minimum 30 professional sea kayak guiding days as an AOG) for a total of at least 80 professional sea kayak guiding days in total.
    At least 20 of the 80 total days logged must be in Class 3 waters.
    In lieu of the 20 professional days in Class 3 waters, may have 30 personal overnight Class 3 days for a total of 110 days.
  5. Maintain current certification in an 80 hour Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent.
    Occupational First Aid Level III will be recognized for Level Three Guides who have taken an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course previously.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification. 
  6. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  7. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  8. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  9. Pass a SKGABC Level Three Exam.
  10. Must participate in On-Going Training in a leadership position at least once every three years.
  11. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

Class 4 Waters Endorsement:

Certified as per a Level 3 guide, plus may lead day and overnight trips in class 4 waters.

  1. Must be 19 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Meet all the requirements of a Level Three Guide.
  4. Paddling Experience:
    • 200 days of professional overnight guiding in Class 3 Waters as a Level 3 Guide.
    • Competent Class 4 waters paddling experience, indicated by atleast 25 days of personal paddling experience in waters rated as Class 4, covering at least 200 separate miles.
  5. Maintain current certification in an 80 hour Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent. Occupational First Aid Level III will be recognized for Level Three Guides who have taken an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course previously.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  6. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  7. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  8. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  9. Must participate in On-Going Training in a leadership position at least once every three years.
  10. Application is made to the SKGABC Certification Committee for Class 4 Endorsement recognition.
    • Letters of reference by two other SKGABC Level 3 Guides addressed to the certification committee (Note: in future, this requirement will be changed to require an endorsement from two Level 3 Guides with a Class 4 Waters endorsement; this is not currently possible until a number of guides obtain this endorsement).
    • Cover Letter and Resume addressed to Certification Committee
  11. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

Guide Trainer:

Certified as per a Level 3 Guide, plus may deliver any course, and examine Level 1 and Assistant Overnight guides.  May assist a Guide Examiner on a Level 2 or 3 Exam.

  1. Must be 19 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Meet all the requirements of a Level Three Guide.
  4. Required to log an additional 200 professional sea kayak guiding days as a Level 3 Guide, at least 40 of which must be in Class 3 waters.
  5. Application to the Guide Trainer Apprenticeship Program (includes submitted application package and potentially an interview if further information is required).
  6. Completion of the Self-Directed Learning Package.
  7. Required to log 21 days assisting on SKGABC endorsed guide training courses (including 7 days assisting on overnight courses) with at least two different instructors. Apprentices must complete at least one Level 1 and one AOG
  8. Required to complete the Application for Certification Process (including recommendations from mentors and assignment submissions)
  9. Maintain current certification in an 80 hour Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent. Occupational First Aid Level III will be recognized for Level Three Guides who have taken an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course previously.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  10. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  11. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  12. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  13. Application is made to the SKGABC Certification Committee for recognition as a Guide Trainer. A cover letter and resume with two letters of reference is required.
  14.  Participate in approved On-Going Training in a leadership position at least once every three years.
  15. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

*See a list of SKGABC course providers


Level 2 Guide Examiner:

Certified as per a Level 3 Guide and Guide Trainer, may deliver any course, assist on Level 3 Guide exams with permission of Lead Guide Examiner and examine on Level 2 Guide exams.

  1. Must be 19 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Must meet all the requirements of a Level Three Guide.
  4. Required to log an additional 250 professional sea kayak guiding days as a Level 3 Guide, at least 50 of which must be in Class 3 waters.
  5. Must apply for Application to the Guide Examiner Apprenticeship Program. Approval as an apprentice is based on meeting the requirements and the results of the application process, which may include an interview.
  6. Must assist on a minimum of two Level 2 Guide exams, and take the leadership role for the entire last exam of the apprenticeship.
  7. Must be recommended following the completion of their Level 2 Examiner apprenticeship by two Examiner mentors, including the supervising Guide Examiner on their “lead” or final exam in the apprenticeship, in the form of two letters of reference.
  8. Application is then made to the SKGABC Certification Committee for recognition as a Level 2 Guide Examiner.
  9. Maintain current certification in an 80 hour Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent. Occupational First Aid Level III will be recognized for Level Three Guides who have taken an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course previously.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  10. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  11. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  12. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  13. Must participate in On-Going Training in a leadership position  at a SKGABC Guides' Exchange at least once every three years.
  14. Must participate in Examiners Committee meetings on an ad hoc basis.
  15. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

Level 3 Guide Examiner:

Certified as per a Level 3 Guide and Guide Trainer, Level 2 Examiner may deliver any course, and examine on Level 2 and Level 3 exams.

  1. Must be 19 years of age or older.
  2. Must be a member in good standing of the SKGABC.
  3. Must meet all the requirements of a Level Three Guide, Guide Trainer, Level 2 Guide Examiner and be eligible for a Class 4 Endorsement. Logs must show depth and breadth of paddling, guiding and instructional experience in delivering SKGABC courses.
  4. Must apply for an apprentice position. Approval as an apprentice is based on meeting the requirements and the results of the application process, which may include an interview.
  5. Must assist on a minimum of two Level 3 Guide exams, the second or final exam requiring the apprentice to take the leadership position for the entire exam under the supervision of a Level 3 Guide Examiner.
  6. Must be recommended following the completion of their Level 3 Guide Examiner apprenticeship by two Guide Examiners including the L3 Guide Examiner that supervised their final exam of the apprenticeship in the form of two letters of reference.
  7. Application is then made to the SKGABC Certification Committee for recognition as a Level 3 Guide Examiner.
  8. Maintain current certification in an 80 hour Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course or equivalent. Occupational First Aid Level III will be recognized for Level Three Guides who have taken an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course previously.
    Note: Guides Operating within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site are required to hold Wilderness First Aid certification.
  9. Maintain current certification of CPR (level C).
  10. Possess a Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio.
  11. Maintain a log documenting sea kayak guiding experience and submit copies to the SKGABC on a yearly basis. Logs must be submitted using the SKGABC log form.
  12. Must participate in On-Going Training in a leadership position at a SKGABC Guides' Exchange at least once every three years.
  13. Must participate in Examiners Committee meetings on an ad hoc basis.
  14. Submit copies of current certification documentation to the SKGABC as required.

All guides must be SKGABC members in good standing.
Guides are expected to match their abilities with the difficulties and potential dangers of managing each particular group through a proposed trip. Rules and regulations do not replace vigilance and good judgment.

*Note: The Certification Committee appointed by the Board of Directors may consider special applications for certification of individuals of undisputed competence, or by reciprocal arrangements with other sea kayak associations.

For external kayak guiding training and certification transfers, including details on Paddle Canada Instructor Certification transfers, see http://www.skgabc.com/certification/certification-transfers

A Note on Logged Days

Kayak guiding days listed as minimum experience levels for Level 2, Level 3, and above guiding levels are overnight professional kayak guiding on multiday expeditions.  Day trips may also be counted towards higher level certification, at a 3:1 ratio, up to a maximum of 50% of the required days in each water classification. Please be sure you have listed your guiding days in your Guide Log.

For example: 30 days of professional overnight kayak guiding required for L2 guide eligibility.  This may be satisfied with professional day kayak trip experience at a 3:1 ratio for up to 50% of required days.

  • 50% of 30 is 15, so 15 of the required overnight days may be substituted by day trips at a 3:1 ratio
  • 3 x 15 = 45 
  • Therefore, 15 overnight kayaking days plus 45 day tripping days = equivalent to 30 required days for L2 guide eligibility.

SKGABC_Visual_for_Guiding_Days

Professional Development -- Certification Requirement

On-Going Training can be satisfied for a THREE (3) year period by any of the following SKGABC activities

  • SKGABC Guides Exchange - (L3 guides: in a Leadership role)
  • SKGABC Endorsed Course - e.g. AOG course, L3 prep course
  • SKGABC Level Two or Three Exam - as a candidate
  • new SKGABC Guide Trainer or Guide Examiner approved application

On-Going Training can be satisfied for a THREE (3) year period by any of the following alternative activities 

  • Recognized training course endorsed by another certifying body
    Examples: Paddle Canada / American Canoe Association / British Canoe Union / etc sea kayak courses
  • Regional paddling symposium or event
    Examples: Pacific Paddling Symposium / Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium / East Coast Kayak Symposium / Lumpy Waters Kayak Symposium
  • Ground Search and Rescue Training
  • Swiftwater Rescue Training

To submit non-SKGABC training, please email documentation to: info@skgabc.com 

In extenuating circumstances, the Executive Director (or Certification Committee) may consider alternative options on a case by case basis, based upon quality, intensity, and length of training as well as networking, community, and leadership components.

*see a list of all available exam dates